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Peso

Lee Kemp

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I just finished watching "Wrestled Away, the Lee Kemp Story" on Amazon Prime.  If you grew up during that time, I think you will enjoy it.  I know I did.  I've met Mr Kemp once shortly after he came from behind at the buzzer to defeat my team mate Paul Martin in Stillwater.  It was the disco era so a few guys from the team took a couple of the badgers down to the local place to dance, after the dual.  I'm sure he wouldn't remember me, but I was one of the guys that pointed him toward the dance floor.  I finished the video believing what I had thought since my first time I saw him live and shook his hand and met him.  He is truly the kind of man that I believe we should all aspire to be.  The class and dignity he exhibits in this movie is subtle, but it sure didn't go past me.  I wrestled in his bracket at the 76 Olympic Trials in Cleveland.  I was not even close to a factor, but a guy named Joe Wells pummeled me to within an inch of my life and Joe was 4th at the weight, behind Dziedzic, Schalles and Kemp.   Lee and Jimmy Jackson were the two college champs from that year who finished in the top 4.  Kudos to you Mr Lee Kemp.  I've been around a lot of great wrestlers, and they are often, but not always great men too.  You sir are the Gold Standard as far as I'm concerned.  Lee if you read this I was the guy in Cleveland yelling "don't grab Schalles leg!"  If you were there, you would understand.  :--)

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46 minutes ago, Peso said:

I just finished watching "Wrestled Away, the Lee Kemp Story" on Amazon Prime.  If you grew up during that time, I think you will enjoy it.  I know I did.  I've met Mr Kemp once shortly after he came from behind at the buzzer to defeat my team mate Paul Martin in Stillwater.  It was the disco era so a few guys from the team took a couple of the badgers down to the local place to dance, after the dual.  I'm sure he wouldn't remember me, but I was one of the guys that pointed him toward the dance floor.  I finished the video believing what I had thought since my first time I saw him live and shook his hand and met him.  He is truly the kind of man that I believe we should all aspire to be.  The class and dignity he exhibits in this movie is subtle, but it sure didn't go past me.  I wrestled in his bracket at the 76 Olympic Trials in Cleveland.  I was not even close to a factor, but a guy named Joe Wells pummeled me to within an inch of my life and Joe was 4th at the weight, behind Dziedzic, Schalles and Kemp.   Lee and Jimmy Jackson were the two college champs from that year who finished in the top 4.  Kudos to you Mr Lee Kemp.  I've been around a lot of great wrestlers, and they are often, but not always great men too.  You sir are the Gold Standard as far as I'm concerned.  Lee if you read this I was the guy in Cleveland yelling "don't grab Schalles leg!"  If you were there, you would understand.  :--)

Joe Wells was a really cool guy. Years after he retired, Joe would come by and beat on some of the studs in the room when he was in his 60s. He couldn’t move well so he would get in the Russian tie and kick their legs out. 

Edited by Force118

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I believe I was ahead of Joe 4-1 at the end of the first period.  It was the 3-3-3 era, and it was before t-falls.  I think he beat me 21-4, but it wasn't that close.  I was 18 and had just finished my freshman year at OSU.  There was a brief time before I broke my neck, when I think I could have been a decent wrestler.  I never came close, but what an eye opener.  There seemed to be a lot of politics in the trials back then.  I remember seeing a previous Olympian put on his back and pinned about 10 x if it was folkstyle...never called it.  Joe had won the US Open that year and Lee was I believe entering his junior year.  A lot of you don't know how tough Schalles and Dziedzic were, but they passed the torch to Lee who passed the torch to Schultz who passed the torch to Kenny...

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Kemp and I were both freshman together on the University of Wisconsin team back in 1974 - all similarities stop there. Lee was a nice, quiet, humble guy who happened to be incredible on the mat; very focused on his development. He was 17 most of his freshman year so he was young for his year in school. He was a bit naive in the ways of the world, but he knew his way around the mats. His presence at the UW launched that program into the highest levels of the NCAA at the time - he was a catalyst for the subsequent development of others on the team (and those who followed in the subsequent years). His success made believers of others and the UW system of wrestling at the time (led by Hellickson and Kleven). It was amazing to see although it was hard to appreciate all of it in the moment.

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1 hour ago, npope said:

Kemp and I were both freshman together on the University of Wisconsin team back in 1974 - all similarities stop there. Lee was a nice, quiet, humble guy who happened to be incredible on the mat; very focused on his development. He was 17 most of his freshman year so he was young for his year in school. He was a bit naive in the ways of the world, but he knew his way around the mats. His presence at the UW launched that program into the highest levels of the NCAA at the time - he was a catalyst for the subsequent development of others on the team (and those who followed in the subsequent years). His success made believers of others and the UW system of wrestling at the time (led by Hellickson and Kleven). It was amazing to see although it was hard to appreciate all of it in the moment.

So I guess you were mean, loud, cocky, lacked focus and stunk on the mat,  but wise beyond your years?

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I have always thought Lee Kemp was a once in a lifetime athlete/competitor/wrestler/human being and so on.  I think Wade Schalles would have needed about 10 workouts with Yianni D and both of them would be unbeatable in today's sport.  I'll bet even money that Stan Dziedzic would have been the guy that figured out how to take advantage of today's or any day's style.  Joe Wells won the US Open that year so you know what a beast he was.  I've watched 21 NCAA tournaments since 1977 so a few good ones have gone through without me seeing them, but I've seen every 4X champ multiple years and I'm telling you these animals would have been the same guys fighting for titles today.  Dake and Burroughs both made me think of Lee when they were younger and a tad more defensive.  Change the rules and techniques and no one I've seen since would have anything over them...with either generation training in the other's.

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I watched the documentary not knowing anything about him.  It was pretty interesting. 

Question regarding his official match (I know they are mostly mum about a closed door match) against Gable. In the documentary, I was under the impression that Kemp dominated Gable from those that didn't compete in the match itseld.  I saw some grainy footage in YouTube and I thought the score was close.

Did Kemp really dominate,  or was it as much of a case of Gable being such a legend and being beat at all?

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1 hour ago, MonagFam said:

I watched the documentary not knowing anything about him.  It was pretty interesting. 

Question regarding his official match (I know they are mostly mum about a closed door match) against Gable. In the documentary, I was under the impression that Kemp dominated Gable from those that didn't compete in the match itseld.  I saw some grainy footage in YouTube and I thought the score was close.

Did Kemp really dominate,  or was it as much of a case of Gable being such a legend and being beat at all?

I’m not sure this helps answer your question, but it’s a pretty good read about the Kemp/Gable match anyways.

 

http://www.leekemp.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Inside_wis_sports_article1.pdf

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7 hours ago, MonagFam said:

I watched the documentary not knowing anything about him.  It was pretty interesting. 

Question regarding his official match (I know they are mostly mum about a closed door match) against Gable. In the documentary, I was under the impression that Kemp dominated Gable from those that didn't compete in the match itseld.  I saw some grainy footage in YouTube and I thought the score was close.

Did Kemp really dominate,  or was it as much of a case of Gable being such a legend and being beat at all?

I believe this is the (only) footage of the match to which you allude. I was there that day and the video pretty much tells the story. Personally, I don't think Lee dominated - it was a very competitive match throughout. I don't remember the Iowa folks being particularly upset (as suggested by Kleven) - although maybe they were or possibly the ones Kleven was talking to. I can tell you that, in the moment, everybody knew this was an historic moment - people were stunned. I remember after the match, tons of little kids were crowded around Kemp asking for autographs while Gable went over and sat down on the bleachers by himself - nary a kid there asking for anything. Definitely a changing of the guard - a very poignant moment. That was Kemp's sophomore campaign; he lost on a refs decision to Iowa's Yagla in the NCAA finals the previous season (they split some matches during Kemp's freshman season).

Yagla was back this season, but Kemp had gone up a weight. Our thoughts, as UW wrestlers, was that Gable entered the open tournament just to get a crack at Kemp to size him up for his Iowa wrestlers who would see Kemp often over the next few years - nobody thought that Kemp might actually win the match...probably not even Gable. In those days, a good number of non-college wrestlers showed up at major open meets, seeking competition for the international season that would follow. So Gable's presence had everyone wondering whether he might make another Olympic run, although publicly Gable said he wasn't planning on trying out (been there, done that attitude). He did say however, that he was toying with the idea of giving greco a go, though; that might be a new challenge for him. In the end, as the article in the above link notes, he retired from competition and focused on building the Hawkeyes into an incredible dynasty.

 

Edited by npope

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On 3/21/2020 at 3:38 AM, Peso said:

I believe I was ahead of Joe 4-1 at the end of the first period.  It was the 3-3-3 era, and it was before t-falls.  I think he beat me 21-4, but it wasn't that close.  I was 18 and had just finished my freshman year at OSU.  There was a brief time before I broke my neck, when I think I could have been a decent wrestler.  I never came close, but what an eye opener.  There seemed to be a lot of politics in the trials back then.  I remember seeing a previous Olympian put on his back and pinned about 10 x if it was folkstyle...never called it.  Joe had won the US Open that year and Lee was I believe entering his junior year.  A lot of you don't know how tough Schalles and Dziedzic were, but they passed the torch to Lee who passed the torch to Schultz who passed the torch to Kenny...

You were a lot better than a "decent wrestler".

I saw the Kemp documentary on Amazon Prime a month or two ago myself. It was pretty cool learning about Kemp in more detail. Good guy, and sounds like he's still in excellent shape (which is more than I can say for most wrestlers, including myself).

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1 minute ago, AnklePicker said:

What happens at the very end?  I have Gable up 6-5 when the video ends. Obviously very far from a domination. 

I don't really remember the details, but I know that there was no sort of mad scramble or anybody picking up a last second takedown. According to the article Kemp said that Gable was in deep but eventually gave up that tact and released the bodylock preferring to start a new attack that didn't generate any points, thus ending without any additional points scored. Is it possible that you had the score incorrect? Judging by Gable's aggressiveness (and Kemp's lack thereof) that Kemp might have been ahead while you were thinking the reverse.

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Force 118 and Peso -- I was in the Iowa room a lot during that time period as a sports writer for the Iowa City paper and knew both Joe Wells and Dan well. Joe was very, very tough, a guy who really loved the sport and all it stood for. We would sit and talk for hours back then, in the wrestling room and at a pub downtown. He was one of Gable's primary workout partners when Dan came to Iowa City to coach and Joe told me many times that working out with Gable was the toughest thing he had ever done.

Regarding the Kemp-Gable match -- Dan had not competed for a long time and was suffering  from a pinched nerve in his neck the week before the tournament and even spent some time in traction in a hospital that same week. Several of his friends tried to talk him out of going to Madison but he felt he had to keep his commitment. He knew after the match that it was time to move on and focus entirely on coaching. Both Dan and Lee are true icons of the sport and deserve all the adulation that comes their way..

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4 hours ago, npope said:

One thing that surprises me when watching this clip is how small the mats were back in the day...and yet the two wrestlers managed to stay in bounds for the most part. Could it be that these days there is more match strategy going on where kids play-the-edge? I'm not sure, but even with the bigger mats these days it seems as though there are far more out-of-bounds calls these days. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, npope said:

I don't really remember the details, but I know that there was no sort of mad scramble or anybody picking up a last second takedown. According to the article Kemp said that Gable was in deep but eventually gave up that tact and released the bodylock preferring to start a new attack that didn't generate any points, thus ending without any additional points scored. Is it possible that you had the score incorrect? Judging by Gable's aggressiveness (and Kemp's lack thereof) that Kemp might have been ahead while you were thinking the reverse.

I watched it again. Looked like Gable 6-5 to me.  There must be missing parts. 

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1 hour ago, AnklePicker said:

I watched it again. Looked like Gable 6-5 to me.  There must be missing parts. 

This is freestyle right?  Kemp was likely given exposure or back points whatever in the 3rd period (not sure of rules at the time).

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6 minutes ago, Mokoma said:

This is freestyle right?  Kemp was likely given exposure or back points whatever in the 3rd period (not sure of rules at the time).

Nope - folkstyle.

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16 hours ago, Peso said:

I have always thought Lee Kemp was a once in a lifetime athlete/competitor/wrestler/human being and so on.  I think Wade Schalles would have needed about 10 workouts with Yianni D and both of them would be unbeatable in today's sport.  I'll bet even money that Stan Dziedzic would have been the guy that figured out how to take advantage of today's or any day's style.  Joe Wells won the US Open that year so you know what a beast he was.  I've watched 21 NCAA tournaments since 1977 so a few good ones have gone through without me seeing them, but I've seen every 4X champ multiple years and I'm telling you these animals would have been the same guys fighting for titles today.  Dake and Burroughs both made me think of Lee when they were younger and a tad more defensive.  Change the rules and techniques and no one I've seen since would have anything over them...with either generation training in the other's.

Agreed. The guts/muscle that makes guys special on the mat has existed since time immemorial. Technique: well, technique comes and goes, depending on the rules to be exploited. Back when I was wrestling you rarely, if ever, saw tilts like we see Spencer Lee specializing in. Hell, I don't even know if they were legal back then. How would Spencer have done without that move in his arsenal against, say, John Smith? Probably not too well.

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